karma, lessons learned, narcissists, politicians, politics, scams, stupid people, Trump

“You need to pay…”

Last night, Bill and I listened to more of Bob Woodward’s Audible book, The Trump Tapes. I’m hoping we’ll finish it tonight, mainly because I hate listening to Donald Trump speak, but also because I look forward to reviewing Woodward’s work. One thing that immediately sticks out to me is that Trump was amazingly forthcoming to this respected member of the press. And Woodward, like any good interviewer, does his best to stroke Trump’s ego, which of course, works like a charm. Trump, like so many narcissistic dictator types before him, loves an audience, and he loves to be stroked. As long as you’re stroking, he’s talking… and Woodward is an expert at extracting information and recording it. So that part of the book is interesting, even as I cringe listening to Trump’s gravelly voice with its weird, sing-songy cadence, and constant spew of bullshit.

Another thing that sticks out to me about The Trump Tapes is that Trump’s focus was almost entirely about money. At one point, he talks about a discussion with the Saudi Arabian king, in which he tells the king “You need to pay…” He was talking about the king needing to pay the United States for military security. He sounded like a mafia boss. I might have been impressed with Trump’s shameless appeal for money, except I know that Trump doesn’t like to pay for things. He has a long list of former lawyers, contractors, and employees who weren’t fully paid or paid at all for their services. Trump seems to think that the so-called “prestige” for working with him ought to be enough. He doesn’t see that if you don’t take care of your people, they won’t take care of you… at least not willingly.

A couple of years ago, I read and reviewed Disloyal, a book written by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen, like so many others who have worked with Trump, eventually learned that working for Trump will lead to misery and losses. Cohen admitted in his book that his job was mostly about getting Trump out of having to pay for things and using legal muscle to keep people in line. For this work, he was paid less than what he was used to earning. He also had to be at Trump’s beck and call, and it was not at all unusual for Trump to interrupt Cohen’s personal time with phone calls and demands for last minute jobs. In his book, Cohen wrote that Trump never pays full price for anything.

Cohen once admired Trump, and wanted to be like him. But he made the mistake of thinking that Trump would respect him and see him as an equal. Cohen, for all of his legal acumen, did not understand narcissism, and he fell for Trump’s charm. Then later, he realized that to Trump, Cohen was a mere tool to be used at his sole discretion. Cohen paid for his tenure as Trump’s legal lackey with prison time and the loss of his license to practice law. However, I have seen Cohen making the rounds all over YouTube, and he has a new book out called Revenge. I will read Cohen’s next book, because even though I think Cohen is pretty narcissistic himself, he’s entertaining. I also enjoy hearing him throw Trump under the bus. Cohen may have lost his legal career, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank as he generates a career selling out the guy who sold him out repeatedly. Perhaps, in his own way, he’s finally making Trump pay.

This topic comes up today as I look at my Facebook memories from October 27, 2018. Four years ago, Bill and I were in the midst of house hunting, as we made plans to move from Jettingen, Germany to Wiesbaden. At the time, we were renting a house from someone who later reminded me a bit of Trump on many levels. I was feeling psychologically unhinged, due to the passive and active aggressive harassment and false allegations lobbed at us by the ex landlady, whom I knew full well would try to rip off our deposit. Four years ago, I was anxious and upset, and there was a lot of adrenaline building as we geared up to stand up for our rights in a country that is foreign to us.

For the first time ever in our married life, Bill and I were very picky about which house and landlord we would accept. We saw seven houses before we finally decided on the one we’re in, which was the last house we viewed. We are paying a lot for this house, but it’s been worth it. Our current landlord treats us fairly and with respect, and this house is a lot more to my liking than the other one was. So we don’t mind paying, even if it is a lot more than what we used to pay. And, in the end, our former landlady also had to pay.

I read my blog post from October 27, 2018. It was partly about something I saw on The Angry Bartender’s page. Someone had decided that they were “too drunk to tip”, and promised they’d tip the next time they visited. Having worked in the restaurant industry myself, I had sympathy for the bartender, even though I don’t care for the tipping custom myself. I mean, I absolutely DO tip where tipping is the norm. I just think it would be better if paying staff wasn’t passed off to customers. I prefer the way tipping is in Germany, where servers and bartenders are expected to be paid by the people who hired them, and tipping truly is a token of gratitude from the customer, rather than an obligation. However– in the USA right now, tipping is expected in most places. And if you’re too drunk to do math, then you probably shouldn’t be exiting a bar without an escort, especially if you can’t walk to wherever it is you’re sleeping. My guess is that the Uber driver isn’t going to want to be stiffed on a tip, either.

Some people on that post were saying that the bartender ought to report the non tipping patron to the police. Naturally, someone else was outraged by that idea, and said so in the comments. From my post four years ago:

I read the comments and one woman suggested getting the person’s license plate number and calling the cops, telling them the person left the bar too drunk to drive.  Another commenter left an irate shaming comment about how jacked up it is to “fuck up someone’s life” just because they didn’t tip.  But think about this for a minute.  This person was too drunk to do math.  If he or she was so intoxicated that tipping properly was too much of a challenge, he or she was certainly too intoxicated to drive.  And people who are that drunk have no right to “fuck up” or end an innocent person’s life by driving drunk.

I continue to be amazed by some people’s senses of entitlement. I see it every day on any newspaper comment section on Facebook, where people constantly complain about paywalls. One guy wrote this:

Why do you post this if only subscribers can read it? You should create a close[d] group only for subscribers.

People pointed out to the guy that if he was reading so many articles that he’d used up his free limit, he needed to become a subscriber. The guy came back with more nasty, entitled spew, as he didn’t seem to realize that he obviously values the paper’s articles enough to read them. But he doesn’t want to pay for the news, even though good journalism is a profession that takes training, expertise, and a fair amount of natural talent. Isn’t that worth paying for? Journalists have bills to pay, too, and it takes money, training, and time to bring you the news. I want to ask the complaining guy if he works for free. Better yet, is he one of those people who resents people who don’t work? Writing the news is a job. People who work jobs should be paid. Newspapers and other media outlets generate money through subscriptions and advertising. You want to read it? You need to pay.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Trump. I see a number of people are trying to hold him accountable. In the past, he’s been eel-like in his ability to slip out of financial obligations. He seems friendly and energizing to those who stroke his ego, but people don’t seem to understand that what they’re seeing is simply superficial charm. There is no substance to it. I listen to Trump act like he and Bob Woodward are great friends, but then Woodward went on to write books about what a dishonest slimeball Trump is, and how his administration was dogged by constant chaos and lies. Woodward is polite and respectful to Trump, not getting offended when he doesn’t let him get a word in edgewise. He gets the story by letting Trump speak for himself. Listening to The Trump Tapes is painful on many levels, and yet we can hear straight from the man’s mouth what a lying grifter he is. He’s someone who never wants to pick up the check, as he tells other people “You need to pay.”

It’s not lost on me that Bob Woodward’s Audible book is coming out just before the midterm elections. I hope it has the right effect on enough people. I don’t think we can afford another Trump term. It’s time Trump paid for his fun, instead of pushing the check on to the American public. It’s time that we, as a society, told Trump, “You need to pay.”

Hopefully, I’ll be ready to write a real review of The Trump Tapes soon. For now, it’s time to do my usual Thursday chores, which now includes taking Arran to the vet for his chemo. Cheerio!

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book reviews, narcissists, politicians, politics

A review of I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House, by Stephanie Grisham…

When Bill isn’t home, our dogs– usually Arran– often wake me up in the middle of the night. After they have their midnight pee or poo break, they come back in and go back to bed. I, then, spend another hour or so, trying to get back to sleep. That’s what happened to me in the wee hours of this morning, when Arran got me up TWICE— once to pee, and once to poo, and both times, demanded a cookie reward for doing his business. Noyzi, on the other hand, didn’t bark at me through the bedroom door early this morning, as he has the past two mornings, nor did he want to join Arran on his nocturnal potty runs.

It’s because of Arran’s second potty break that I finally finished Stephanie Grisham’s 2021 book, I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House. While it wasn’t a particularly difficult book to read, it did take me some time to plow through, mainly because I’m not capable of reading as fast as I once was. Nowadays, if I’m reading in bed, I fall asleep. I have to be careful, too, because I usually read on an iPad. I don’t want to get hit in the nose or teeth, or roll over on the iPad and break it. It also took time because I happened to be reading it while we were on vacation, and I was busy doing other things… like watching Netflix and hanging out with Bill.

I hadn’t actually planned to read Stephanie Grisham’s book. I remember reading her comments defending the Trumps when Donald Trump was 45. Many of my regular readers know I despise Donald Trump, and I’d like to forget about him. Still, I have found myself drawn to books written by people who worked for him at the White House (there is no working with him— the man is a raging narcissist and thinks he is the most important person alive). I did read Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s book, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady. I figured I might as well give Stephanie Grisham’s book a chance.

So now I’ve read it… and I have to say, for the most part, it wasn’t terrible.

Ambitious Stephanie Grisham had always dreamt of being the White House Press Secretary. In 2016, when Trump was running for president, she was a “junior press wrangler”. By 2020, she had worked for both Donald Trump, and his wife, Melania. For a time she simultaneously worked for BOTH Trumps, when Trump hired her to be the White House Press Secretary and Communications Director, and Melania Trump’s Communications Director. Grisham was an extremely rare high profile Trump employee, in that she was there for almost the entire time Trump was in office. She finally quit on January 6, 2021, in the wake of the attack on the Capitol, as pro Trump rioters breached one of our country’s most beautiful and recognizable government buildings in an attempt to prevent the 2020 presidential election results from being certified.

Having read Grisham’s book, and about all of the frustrations and mistreatment she no doubt faced, particularly at the hands of some of her male co-workers, I’m surprised it took her so long to finally throw in the towel. But Grisham has an explanation. She, like so many of us, was “trained” to take abuse from people, and she got unusually good at doing that. And she also claims that she’s a Republican and believed in what Trump was doing. She writes that he had some good policies, although she doesn’t really spell out which specific policies she thought were so good.

This book isn’t really about Donald Trump’s policies, though. It’s about what it was like to work for the Trumps. Grisham writes about what it was like to fly on Air Force One, which took the Trumps and their entourage on exotic foreign trips– at one point, meeting the British Royal Family, at another, visiting four countries in Africa. Much of what Grisham writes seems to be more about working for Melania, which I got the impression she did longer than working for Trump himself.

There were a few instances in the book in which Grisham seemed to want to be friends with Melania, but Melania apparently wasn’t interested. For instance, one day Melania seemed kind of depressed. Grisham invited her to take a walk on the beach, as if they were friends. Melania wanted to know if there would be photographers there. Grisham then found herself trying to arrange an impromptu photo shoot with real photographers. Throughout the book, Grisham mentions how beautiful and stylish Melania is, as if she really admires her, in spite of Melania’s hot and cold treatment of her and eventually being completely discarded by the former First Lady when the Trump era ended.

Incidentally, Grisham mentions Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s book on more than one occasion. I get the sense there’s no love lost between those two. However, I also get the sense that both of them fancied themselves “close friends” of Melania’s. It’s almost as if they’re jealous of each other (Wolkoff also mentions Grisham in her book). Wolkoff eventually realizes that Melania is no friend to anyone. Grisham, conversely, seems to hold out hope that she and Melania could one day be besties or something. Spoiler alert– it ain’t happening. Melania is into herself, and maybe her son, Barron. That’s about it.

I’m being honest when I write that Grisham comes off as a likable person to me, probably because she uses a lot of profanity. I mean… she uses a LOT of cuss words, including the “f” word. As much as I like cussing myself, that was one aspect of her writing that I noticed and thought detracted a bit from her manuscript, especially given that she’s a journalist. On the other hand, she writes as if she’s having a conversation, which I also tend to do. And if cursing is something she does in her natural voice, maybe it IS appropriate, in terms of her authentic voice. I think if I had to work for either of the Trumps to make a living, I would cuss a lot too. And I would probably drink a lot more… which would not be a good thing. However, while the profanity makes Grisham seem more relatable to me, it also makes her seem less polished and professional. I guess that makes sense in Trump’s White House, given his penchant for “pussy grabbing”.

Grisham offers some details about some of the Trumps’ most notorious moments in the press, as well as Jared and Ivanka, whom she collectively refers to as Javanka. Like Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, she refers to Ivanka alone as “the princess”. Barron gets one mention at the end of the book, and she paints him in a good light. The other Trump kids are described as entitled brats, for the most part– but especially Ivanka. Grisham doesn’t seem impressed with Jared Kushner, either.

Toward the end of Grisham’s book, she writes about an abusive romantic relationship she was involved in with another Trump staffer. She doesn’t identify the man, but she does describe him, and her description of him certainly paints the picture of a classic abuser. This was a man she’d lived with, and even adopted a dog with, and at the end of their relationship, he turned out to be a total dick. One night, she got very upset and hung out with some friends. Another friend brought over some wine and encouraged Grisham to take an Ambien, which she did. It promptly knocked her out cold. Next thing she knew, she was being asked if she was okay by two guys in her bedroom. They were from the Secret Service. Her friend got worried and called the White House. They got the idea that she was suicidal.

At the same time she was reeling from her breakup, Grisham was also dealing with Mark Meadows, one of Trump’s many former Chiefs of Staff. Meadows made Grisham’s life hellish, and basically fired her from working with Trump. Although Grisham had supposedly wanted to keep the Ambien incident quiet, word got out, which is probably why she addresses it in her book. Meadows also got wind of it and was apparently quite the bastard about it, and a lot of other things. Make no mistake about it; Grisham and Mark Meadows are definitely not on good terms.

As she sums up her time fulfilling her ambitions of being the White House Press Secretary, among other things, Grisham discloses her own personal epiphany. She realizes that she has been well-trained to tolerate abuse, especially from men. She says she was abused by her White House boyfriend, by Mark Meadows, and even by Trump. She wrote that she’d gotten used to men being mean to her, calling her names, and treating her like a doormat. I must say, I was a little surprised that she hadn’t seen Trump as an abuser ages ago, especially since she’s a journalist. One of the main reasons why I despise Trump so much is because it’s so OBVIOUS to me that he’s abusive. It was very clear that Trump was an abuser, even in the 1980s, which is when I first heard of Trump.

I remember, in 2016, reading an article about the 1993 book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump by Harry Hurt III. Within that article, there was an excerpt from the book about an incident that occurred between Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana. It basically described Trump as having raped his first wife. I was horrified, and decided to read and review the book for myself, which I did, back in April 2017. You can find my repost here. Below is a screenshot of the passage in the article from The New Yorker that I read about Trump’s little domestic violence episode. This attack is also described in Hurt’s book.

Name calling… yet another one of Trump’s least attractive qualities that is constantly on display. I think the fact that he blatantly abuses women should have disqualified Trump from running. He should have been arrested, instead.

Stephanie Grisham seems to like Melania, even though Melania hasn’t said a word to her since the day Grisham quit her job. She does state that both Donald and Melania basically use people and discard them when they are no longer useful. In that sense, they’re both narcissists. However, Melania apparently comes off as a more “human” and less extreme version of a narcissist. Melania is probably more of a garden variety narcissist, while Trump is an obvious, off-the-chain, malignant narcissist. He was put into power by people who are probably actual sociopaths and are a hell of a lot more intelligent and cunning than Trump will ever be. I know there are snakes on both sides of the political spectrum, but the Republicans have really shown their asses in a dangerous way. It saddens me that so many Americans have fallen for it, hook, line, and sinker.

At the end of the book, Grisham does concede that she wished another Republican, other than Donald Trump, could have run for president in 2020. I can understand that. Before Trump took office, I had some sympathy for the conservative cause. However… as far as I am concerned, Trump has ruined the Republican Party. I think it’s unlikely I will vote Republican ever again. Grisham, on the other hand, still says she’s a Republican, and at times, even seems to apologize for the Trumps– including Donald, but especially Melania.

Below are a couple of insightful excerpts from Grisham’s epilogue (bolded emphases are mine):

IT HAS OCCURRED TO me as I’ve been writing that I seem to be blaming everyone but myself for how things turned out for me in the White House, especially in the last six months. According to me I was the victim of covid, of Meadows and his people, of my ex, of the former East Wing chief of staff, of some of my own East Wing staff, of some West Wing senior staff, of the president, and even of the first lady at the very end. And although the stories I have laid out are all true and it was very much a perfect storm of certain personalities coming together in opposition to me, I don’t feel that I am a victim who did no wrong. It is my fervent belief that when you are the common denominator in situations like this, you need to look within and determine where your own responsibility lies. People need to hold themselves accountable to situations so that they can learn from them and apply them in the next chapter of life, and that includes me.

I think the first part is obvious: I became heady with power. I got cocky. You get inside the walls of the White House, the most important building in the country and arguably the world, and you are catered to like nowhere else. You go in wanting to help the people of the United States, but I don’t think many people in the Trump administration left there as the best versions of themselves; I know I did not.

Grisham, Stephanie. I’ll Take Your Questions Now (p. 326). Harper. Kindle Edition.

AND

I did think somebody needed to stick around to look out for Mrs. Trump. I was loyal to her personally, and I didn’t want her to be staffed by incompetent or untrustworthy people who didn’t have her best interests at heart. And as she had most always been good to me, I felt gratitude. But her apathy in response to the January 6 riots made it hard for me to stay at the very end.

I also turned a blind eye toward my own falling into a trap I saw over and over again: believing I was a trusted and valued member of Trump World. The plain truth is that most of the Trump family dismisses and cuts people from their lives on a whim. They demand total loyalty, but they are loyal to no one. I don’t blame them, to be honest. They are businesspeople, and business should not be personal. Some people learned that once and walked away; others kept going back for more, and there are many who are still doing it. I allowed my ego to grow in such a way that I never considered that the Trumps would allow me to be treated poorly. I put myself onto the same level as Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, even Javanka, and that was ludicrous. Mrs. Trump did defend me when she could, and privately she always told me of her anger on my behalf, but I’m not sure it ever went farther than that, and I wrongly expected that it should have.

Finally, and most importantly, I should have spoken up more.

Grisham, Stephanie. I’ll Take Your Questions Now (pp. 326-327). Harper. Kindle Edition.

A lot of narcissistic, abusive people rise to meteoric heights and great fame, with many loyal, hardworking people like Stephanie Grisham working tirelessly and thanklessly to put, and keep, them in power. But not every successful person is like this, nor should they be. These are not qualities that are healthy or desirable in world leaders. Until Stephanie Grisham recognizes and acknowledges that, I fear that she’ll keep making the same mistakes… and allow her ambition to blind her to toxic behaviors from others that will simply make her miserable. More importantly, these behaviors also make innocent people miserable… including the folks who went to the Capitol in January of this year, mistakenly thinking Trump would reward their loyalty by pardoning them for the crimes they committed on his behalf.

Grisham said it herself– the Trumps expect loyalty, “but they are loyal to no one.” Trump even ominously told this to Grisham straight up, when he said to her “I am the only one who matters.” I really think Stephanie Grisham should think about that, and reevaluate her idea of what makes appropriate and effective leaders… or even appropriate people to have in her private life. In order to be a great leader, the leader must care about other people and be a decent person themselves. Otherwise, they’re just power hungry toxic people who use others and spit them out when they’re deemed worthless. They’re just like parasites. And they aren’t even polite or kind about it. At one point, Grisham writes that Trump asked her Grisham’s ex boyfriend if Grisham was “good in bed.” When they later broke up, Trump wanted the details, and didn’t seem to care that Grisham was obviously upset and crying about her pain. Trump has no empathy, and that makes him unworthy of anyone’s vote or attention or anything else.

The fact that Grisham recognizes that the Trumps dismiss and cut people from their lives is a positive step in the right direction. However, I think she still has some work to do, because in the next sentence, she writes that she doesn’t blame them. In fact, there are several times in her book that Grisham makes excuses, not just for the Trumps, but for herself. I recall reading more than once that Grisham had gotten DUIs– maybe it was only one, but I know there was at least one– but she basically explains that she got caught drinking and driving after hanging out with her girlfriends, and blows it off as if it’s not a big deal. Then, there was the Ambien incident, apparently after she’d enjoyed some wine. Maybe she should also seek some professional attention regarding her use of substances.

So… that about does it for my review. I’m not sorry I read I’ll Take Your Questions Now, even though I initially wasn’t inclined to read the book. I don’t agree with Stephanie Grisham’s politics, but I appreciate her decision to share her story. I think Stephanie Grisham is, deep down, an okay, but deeply flawed person… maybe even someone I’d enjoy talking to, in spite of her politics and deep flaws. After all, most of us are deeply flawed. What can I say? I still have Republican friends and family members.

I just hope Stephanie Grisham finds herself a good therapist and explores her own self worth more. My friend Audra shared these two thoughts on Facebook yesterday. If Stephanie Grisham ever reads my review, I hope she’ll read them and take them to heart. Based on her book, I think these are lessons she should practice a bit more.

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Biden, narcissists, politicians, politics, Trump

Sorry folks, but Trump would have been way worse…

Sorry to bring this up today. I’d rather be writing about something really hilarious. But I feel the need to bring up something that has been bugging the crap out of me ever since the Afghanistan debacle happened.

Last night, one of my relatives posted a nasty diatribe about Joe Biden’s handling of Afghanistan. He called Biden a “POS” and then berated people for thinking Trump is worse than Biden is. I fought to stop myself from commenting. I decided not to, mainly because my relative has a huge number of conservative friends, as well as lots of mutual family members hanging out on his page. And I just didn’t feel like getting into it with anyone last night, especially since we’re about to leave town.

Sadly… and what makes it worse is that I know a lot of people who support Trump aren’t like him themselves.

I also recognize people’s rights to post what they want to on their social media. It’s almost always better to just scroll by things that are inflammatory and/or hide the post. So that’s what I did. But my husband, who has over 30 years of military experience, as well as actual experience “downrange”, did decide to respond. I haven’t gone to look at the aftermath of Bill’s comment, because again, I don’t want to feel the need to respond. The “need to respond” is definitely a troublesome family trait on my dad’s side of the family, and it doesn’t always lead to things that are good.

Trump doesn’t think about what he says before he speaks, and he acts impulsively. He regularly says things that are incredibly hurtful and offensive, and he does harmful things without a second thought about the outcome. A man who brags about grabbing any woman he wants by the pussy is not someone who would handle pulling out of Afghanistan with any grace or finesse. He apparently doesn’t even operate that way in the bedroom.

We have had four years to see Trump’s way of handling things. Maybe the optics would have been more palatable to the armchair warriors who are safe at home, watching the news… and being manipulated like everyone else is by the way the media portrays things. But I don’t in a million years believe that the outcome would have been better. In fact, I think it would have been much worse.

Anyway… here’s why I think Trump would have botched Afghanistan much worse than Biden has. It’s because Trump is probably a malignant narcissist. That’s really the main reason. Trump’s narcissism is apparently off the charts. And that fact, in and of itself, is what makes him a terrible leader, and what would have made him seriously fuck up Afghanistan in a way that probably would have gotten a lot of people killed.

What is a malignant narcissist?

You can click this link to read a pretty good description of what a malignant narcissist is. But in brief terms, a malignant narcissist is someone who is completely preoccupied with their image and has superficial charm. They seek to win at all costs, and don’t care what they have to do or who they have to hurt in order to win. They can’t handle criticism, listen to counsel or advice from others, or regulate their behavior. And they are amused by other people’s pain and suffering.

Dr. Grande also presents a pretty good look at Trump and narcissistic behavior.

Donald Trump regularly and obviously displays his extreme narcissism. He says and does whatever he wants. He doesn’t care when people get hurt, unless it suits his narrative. When the cameras aren’t rolling, he doesn’t give a shit about other people. There are thousands of people who are affected by what’s going on in Afghanistan. And, as it was said on one of Dr. Grande’s videos, “Narcissism is a barrier against reason and logic.” If there’s a time when having reason and logic is paramount, it’s now.

Another video worth watching… and a reminder of why Trump is dangerous, and would not have handled Afghanistan well. He talks a lot about characteristics good leaders should have.

I know some people don’t think Trump’s narcissism is significant. But if you have had personal dealings with this type of person, you will come to know all too well how narcissists put other people in grave danger and serious personal risk. Seriously narcissistic people like Trump do not care about anything or anyone but themselves. That is a fact. And given that, he would not care about the people of Afghanistan or the Americans who are trying to get out of there safely.

Is it better to have a “weak” person like Biden handling pulling out of Afghanistan? Or is Trump’s bluster and perceived “strength” better?

In my opinion, Biden is clearly a better person to be handling this crisis. Let’s be honest. This was a mess 20 years in the making. Joe Biden didn’t start it. In fact, he didn’t even really end it. Donald Trump made one of his famous “deals” with the Taliban last year. Trump wanted to get America out of Afghanistan, but instead of dealing with the Afghan government, he cut a deal with the Taliban. Maybe the Taliban still would have struck if Trump had dealt with the government instead of an extremist terrorist group, but as Trump likes to say, “it wasn’t a good look” for him to be negotiating with terrorists.

Trump wasn’t wrong to want us out of Afghanistan, since the war was a huge cash drain. Moreover, history has shown us that Afghanistan doesn’t want to “change”. Other countries have tried and failed to bring Afghanistan into the 20th century (and yes, I do mean 20th, not 21st).

So Trump wasn’t wrong to want to end the war… But he made a deal with the Taliban. He basically sold out Afghanistan to a bunch of terrorists. And then he lost the election– and yes, he DID lose– but there was still that deal with the Taliban. We had to get out of there, and it was not a secret that we would be leaving.

Biden clearly didn’t handle this situation perfectly, but I think this would have been a shitstorm regardless. And I would much rather have someone like him leading the country– someone who does care about others and has pledged to try to help the Afghans who helped the U.S. military for twenty years. Biden’s priority is to get Americans out, as well as those who helped Americans. He’s doing that. Thousands of Afghan refugees have already arrived in Germany. In fact, one was even born on the transport to Germany from Afghanistan. Thanks to my husband’s work, I know that those people are being taken care of. I doubt they would have been under Trump.

Donald Trump has proven that he doesn’t think much of brown people. But aside from that, Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, and won’t listen to anyone who does. So I think that if he had been in charge, the situation would have been much, much worse. There certainly would have been more death and destruction.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan with lots of cash. Why did he take off? Because of what happened to his predecessor when the Taliban took over. According to The New York Times, Ghani left because he was afraid he’d be lynched. In 1996, former Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah was executed and strung up in a public square. Prior to his execution, the former president was castrated and beaten.

Ghani did not want to be tortured and executed, nor did the world need to see another leader desecrated in such a way. I can’t really blame him for getting out of Afghanistan. But when it comes down to it, Afghanistan was Ghani’s responsibility, wasn’t it? And they had 20 years. Biden’s first priority was getting Americans out of Afghanistan. That’s what he’s been doing.

My relative is a military veteran, but he left the military after four years. His service was in the 1990s, which was a relatively peaceful era. I don’t think he’s ever even been to Europe, let alone a place like Afghanistan. I’m not sure what he thinks qualifies him to criticize Biden and the way he handled this situation, which was bound to be a chaotic shitstorm regardless.

So… the bottom line is, I agree that this situation is tragic and could have been done better. But Donald Trump was certainly not the one who could have done it better. I think if Trump had been in charge, it would have been a huge catastrophe. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone but himself. That makes him a totally unsuitable leader. I’m really glad he’s not the president anymore. I hope more people will realize how dangerous he is, but more importantly, I hope the American people won’t vote in someone much worse than Trump.

Well… we’re off to the Black Forest for a few days. Gotta get our teeth cleaned and burn up some leave.

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condescending twatbags, healthcare, lessons learned

“You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that…” George Carlin

Yesterday’s post garnered more interest than I expected it would. I enjoyed writing it, but as I was writing, it occurred to me that dealing with stupid insults from clueless people– especially men– is a common theme in my life. The Internet has always been a place of less civilized behavior, but it’s gotten a lot worse lately. There are many reasons for that.

I think it started getting worse when Donald Trump became president. He did not win by a landslide in 2016, so there were many people who were angry about the election. They took to social media to vent. Meanwhile, Trump supporters gloated that “their guy” won, and a lot of them became kind of rude and nasty. Both groups had even less regard for others than they used to, say, ten years ago.

This morning, I read a post I wrote back in April 2020. A Trump supporter had posted a picture of Donald Trump flipping people off with both fingers with the caption “Still your president.” In response to that photo, I posted a picture of Trump with a frog superimposed on his chin. Yes, it was kind of saucy, but at least it wasn’t profane. After a couple more increasingly intense comments, the Trump supporter ended up calling me a “cunt”. Then, when I responded in kind, he blocked me. 😀

I know I should have ignored him. For the most part, I do try to ignore people who say and do provocative things. It never ends well, although I don’t mind being blocked by someone who called me a “cunt”. That’s kind of a low blow, even if I don’t know the person, so I didn’t take the insult personally. I did notice, however, that my less than offended response to being called a “cunt” seemed to really offend the guy. I mean, he was offended by a photo of Trump with a frog on his face after he posted a picture of Trump, as still president, flipping everybody off! Then, after trading insults with and finally going to “fightin’ words”, he blocks me when I give him what he was dishing out! It’s hilarious!

For some reason, a lot of men feel like calling women “cunts” is the ultimate power move. In my view, when someone resorts to calling a total stranger a word like that, that means they’ve lost the argument and need to hurl the worst insults they can think of. But I think that if the word “cunt” is the best word you can come up with to verbally slay someone, your shit’s pretty weak.

Likewise, yesterday’s encounter with “Rick” was pretty disappointing and uncivilized. Rick decided to go “ad hominem” in his argument with others. Anyone who disagreed with his comments was fair game for an ad hominem attack. In my case, he wrongly implied that men don’t want to have sex with me. He’s wrong, because as a happily married woman, there is at least one man in my life who loves having sex with me. There may even be others out there, too. In my experience, there are a lot of men who don’t even care too much about what a woman looks like if there’s a chance that they can have sex. They might not ever speak to the woman again, but by God, if she’s willing to put out, they’re showing up for it. 😀 So Rick’s comment was especially stupid… but it was also kind of mean, and unnecessary.

Lately, I think being “mean” is the order of the day. Because along with Donald Trump, and his campaign of being rude and insulting to people, COVID-19 also came along. COVID-19 is some very scary shit, and people who are taking it seriously are pretty fed up with the so-called deniers and rule flouters. And so, some of these folks have lost their basic sense of decency and civility and they’re posting things that are just nasty and, frankly, uncalled for, as well as occasionally just wrong.

For example, yesterday I read an article about vaccine refusers and a proudly vaccinated woman named Karen wrote that if she and an unvaccinated person both showed up at a hospital at the same time, she should be the one who gets medical care. Why? Because she did as she was told, and got vaccinated. Forget the fact that traditionally, when it comes to medical care, providers triage all comers. That means that if you’re not as sick as the other person because you got the vaccine, you will be waiting. That’s called following medical ethics.

It may not seem right or fair, but in the grand scheme of things, not providing the sicker person with medical care is still putting innocent people at risk. That unvaccinated person is going to spread the virus more than a vaccinated person will, and he or she will need more help. We can bitch and moan as much as we want about people who don’t want to get with the program, but when it comes down to it, it’s not ethically right to deny them care. Still, Karen, was insisting that we should just tell non-vaccinated people to go die in the street or something. I couldn’t help but think that Karen was aptly named. 😉 Although, as I have repeatedly stated, I hate the trend of using people’s first names as pejoratives.

I haven’t been in the United States since 2014, so I have missed all of Trump’s presidency, as well as the US version of the pandemic. Here in Germany, the face mask mandates for shops and public transportation never went away. Around here, people do hate the fucking things, but they mostly stoically cooperate with the rules. And, when the pandemic is tamed somewhat, local leaders have shown that they will amend the rules. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people rebelling or complaining, but we’re not seeing some of the sheer selfishness and rudeness here that I have seen described online in the United States. I will forever be grateful to Germany for letting me live here during these very strange times.

But… I do realize that while Trump and his supporters are pretty insufferable, some people on the other side are just as bad. People who laugh at those who get really sick and die, for instance, are just shitty. Because even if the person might have “asked” for it by not taking precautions, it’s still a pretty horrible way to die, and there are innocent people who will be impacted by it. You may feel better for a few minutes laughing at the father of a newborn who mocked vaccines and died, but he still has an innocent infant son who will forevermore be affected by the loss of his dad. Are you also laughing at that baby’s loss and eventual pain? If you are, shame on you.

Moreover, sometimes people don’t get vaccinated for legitimate reasons. I read an article in The Atlantic yesterday about how Americans are “getting it wrong” about the unvaccinated. Many people were commenting on it, but I don’t think most of them bothered to read the article. I think that’s a shame, because the article did have some good information. Like, for instance, there’s a reminder that some people haven’t gotten vaccinated because vaccines are not accessible to them, for whatever reason. Say you live in a rural area, but you don’t have a car. The nearest vaccination center is a stout walk. Maybe you won’t get a shot because of that. Or, say you’re a single parent who lacks access to affordable child care. You can’t leave your child alone so you can get the shot. Or, say you work at a job that does not offer paid time off. You can’t afford to take the time to get the shot or deal with the potential side effects.

Rhea Boyd, who is a public health advocate and pediatrician, was interviewed for the article in The Atlantic. She said:

Availability and access aren’t the same thing. If you have to walk the five miles, you’re going to rethink getting vaccinated, especially if you’re elderly, or you have chronic disease, or the round trip is interfering with other things like work. [Much of] our paid workforce doesn’t have flexibility about hours, or couldn’t take a day off if they wanted to. And if you don’t have paid sick leave to deal with the vaccine or the potential side effects of the second dose, you’ll skip it because feeding your family is more important right now.

Child care is also an enormous issue. If you don’t have someone to watch your children, then what do you do? Many of these things the Biden administration has tried to address. They have programs involving Uber and LyftChild-care organizations have signed on to help with vaccine appointments. There are tax breaks for companies that offer paid sick leave. These are incredible, but they may not filter down to your area. We need to think about local interventions to help stretch them.

See… I think this is good information and something that privileged people forget to think about when they criticize so-called “anti-vaxxers”. But we’re all so eager to run our figurative mouths about the “type” of person who stubbornly won’t get the vaccine. Boyd continues by stating that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by demonizing people who aren’t vaccinated. Because now, we can’t even have a civilized conversation about this. As I’ve repeatedly stated since this mess started last year, there’s a tremendous pressure to say and do the “right” things. And if you don’t, you can be assured of being browbeaten by patronizing people who can’t find it within themselves to listen and respond with empathy and understanding. Boyd continues:

The language we use around unvaccinated people comes with a judgment—a condescension that “you’re unvaccinated and it’s your choice at this point.” That attitude is papering Twitter. It’s repeated by our top public-health officials. They’re railing on the unvaccinated as if they’re holding the rest of us back from normalcy. But unvaccinated people aren’t a random group of defectors who are trying to be deviant. They’re not all anti-vaxxers. They’re our kids! Any child under 12 is in that group.

Just now, I looked at the comment I left on The Atlantic’s Facebook page about this article. I got a few laughing reactions, as well as a dismissive comment about how “bad” unvaccinated people are. I also got a self-righteous lecture from an ER nurse about how she didn’t “need” to read the article, because she’s on the front lines. I resisted the urge to offer her a cookie and reiterated that, yes, she DID need to read the article.

Frankly, everyone should read before they comment, rather than just react to headlines and featured photos. As Rhea Boyd pointed out in her comments in The Atlantic’s article, sometimes people really do have legitimate reasons why they haven’t been vaccinated. Yes, it’s true that some folks are being stubborn and willfully ignorant, but there really can be an issue with access for some people, as well as a lack of information and trust. These are REAL issues. Calling people names and not hearing what they have to say is not going to make them cooperate. But, in fairness, I do have an inkling of the frustration and burnout a lot of healthcare providers must be feeling right now. In fact, thanks to the below video, I got more of an inkling of it this morning.

This is a very powerful video by Dr. Catherine O’Neal. It makes a lot of good sense. But I also think there are people who simply need practical and logistical help in getting the vaccine.

I think things would get better if more people simply cooperated and, as hard as it can be, simply tried to give people the benefit of the doubt instead of just lashing out at them. If we stopped politicizing everything and focused on being decent to each other, I think it’s likely that the situation would improve. But people are frustrated, angry, and under pressure from their peer groups and families to pick a side.

I still have a number of Republican friends and loved ones. I don’t disassociate with people simply because of their politics. I do find Trump supporters puzzling, because most of my friends who like Trump truly are decent people, deep down. I don’t understand how decent people can support Trump. Conservatism, I get, but why not demand someone with basic ethics? Is it simply because people think Trump is the only person who can win an election? If so, that’s really sad, and it’s a bleak sign that our future is going to really suck.

Malignant narcissists do not make good leaders. They can’t be good leaders, because in order to be a good leader, one has to care about other people. And malignant narcissists, by definition, only care about themselves. That’s what makes them abusive, petty, childish, and damaging to others. That type of person cannot lead effectively. And Trump has shown us, time and again, that he’s a malignant narcissist. However, so many people have been blinded by his charisma and showmanship, and the fact that he has diarrhea of the mouth and they find it entertaining, that they forget their basic decency.

I can’t say that Joe Biden is the ideal person to lead the country, but I like him much, much more than Trump. The basic fact that he has regard for someone– ANYONE– but himself and his interests, makes him a better leader. I feel safer with him in charge than the unhinged orange turd who brags about molesting women. Trump is focused on making money, satisfying his pleasure center, and being glorified and admired by others. Those are not the traits of a good leader.

Anyway… I guess I’ve prattled on long enough… Comment sections are going to be the death of me. George Carlin was right when he said, “You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that.” Sometimes, it’s really best to keep scrolling and not respond. I do hope this situation improves soon. Because people are definitely getting meaner and less civilized. It makes me envy people like my friend Matt, who has already checked out of this world and moved on to a place where problems don’t exist.

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